September 18, 1990
Digest: A full-time judge may permit the paralegal studies board of a public university to send an informational letter to members of a bar association, which contains the names of the judicial members of the board, including the judge, in the letterhead.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.4(c); 22 NYCRR §§100.5(b)(2), 100.5(g)
A full-time judge who is serving as honorary chair of a paralegal studies board of a public university seeks an opinion regarding the propriety of the board’s sending an informational letter to members of a bar association, which contains, in the letterhead, the names of the judicial members of the board. The proposed letter informs the members of the bar about the paralegal studies program, the hiring and use of paralegals, and solicits no funds.
22 NYCRR §100.4(c) states in part:
A judge may serve as a member, officer or director of an organization or governmental agency devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.
Section 100.5(b)(2), states, in part:
No judge shall solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of the office for that purpose, but may be listed as an officer, director or trustee of such an organization; provided, however, that no such listing shall be used in connection with any solicitation of funds.
The inquiring judge may serve as honorary chair of the paralegal studies board, and the other judges may serve as members, and they may permit the names of the judicial members of the board to appear on the board’s letterhead, and to be transmitted to the bar for informational purposes, since the paralegal program is connected with the improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice, and the transmission to the bar is not for fund-raising purposes.
The Committee notes that service on the paralegal studies board is different from service on a board of trustees or a similar entity of a public university, as membership on the paralegal studies board is not a public office or position of public trust (see Article VI, section 20(b)(1) of the New York State Constitution).